the first Adam and the last Adam

One failed and brought death on all His descendants. The other was faithful, bringing life through His death and resurrection.

And if we take the time to read Scripture more carefully, we see how deeply the parallels run. The ways in which Jesus is similar to, and yet better than Adam, are astonishing:

The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.

The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”

We celebrate this last event today—Jesus’ final meal with His Disciples, and His new command that we “love one another.” In giving Christians this meal, He sealed His role as Adam’s replacement.

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just a quick thought….on types of people

Somebody has well said that there are only two kinds of people in the world: There are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord,” and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning.”

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full or empty ??

FULL OR EMPTY?
By Heather Spears Kallus

There are many people in our world.  Yes, and people can be so very different in their views, temperaments, attitudes, and personalities.  Some of us can be easy-going, flexible, and upbeat, while others can be cantankerous, argumentative, and uncooperative.  Let me interrupt for just a second – isn’t that a fun word?  Cantankerous.  I haven’t used it for a long, long time, but it’s a word full of letters and it basically just means crabby and cranky.  Cantankerous.  CANTANKEROUS!  Anyway, as a word-lover, I thank you for allowing me to digress for a moment.

When we can, we prefer to hang out with people who are positive and uplifting, right?  If given the opportunity, most of us would choose to surround ourselves with people who inspire, motivate, and encourage us.  If given a choice, we’d pick a friend who views the glass as half-full instead of half-empty, right?  We wouldn’t want to purposely seek out the irritable grumps in our world, would we?

Well, I just got a cute little story from Mikey that compares twins.  So timely and I love it!

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks.  If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold.  If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up.

Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom & gloom pessimist.  Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday, their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game.

The optimist’s room, he loaded with horse manure.

That night, the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.

“Why are you crying?” the father asked.

“Because my friends will be jealous, and I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff.  I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken,” answered the pessimistic twin.

Passing the optimistic twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure.

“What are you so happy about?” he asked.

To which his optimistic twin son replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!  Woo-hoo!”

Oh, that story made me smile!  A perfect example of half-full vs. half-empty!

So, I’ve seen a version of the following question in many places over the years and I wanted to share it with you.  I was inspired by it so much so that I wrote a poem about it today.  Here’s the question:  “What if we woke up this morning and ONLY had the things and people in our lives that we had thanked God for yesterday?”  Hmmmm…would we only have the traffic light that finally turned green, the winning scratch-off ticket, or the passing grade on that final exam?  Would we have anyone to share our joy with?

Here’s my poem:

FULL OR EMPTY?

How full or empty would our world be,

If we had only things we’d thanked God for on bended knee?

Would we have a home, some food, or money?

How ’bout a job, some clothes, and our Honey?

Could we see with our eyes and speak with our lips?

Could we walk with our legs and dance with our hips?

Would our children be there to tuck in at night?

Would the sun wake us up with new morning light?

How full or empty would our world be,

If we had only things we’d thanked God for on bended knee?

Would we have friends and fam to call on the phone?

How ’bout some ice cream on a cone?

Could we turn on the A/C or heater at whim?

Could we hit the gym or sing a hymn?

Would our parents be there to spend some time?

Would we find that lucky penny, dollar, or dime?

Would there be hugs, kisses, and love?

What about chances to thank God above?

Would there be stars in the sky for wishes?

How ’bout mouths to feed and all those dishes?

I ask again, to reflect and think,

Ponder on this the next time you blink.

How full or empty would your world be,

If you had only things you’d thanked God for on bended knee?

Full or empty?  We choose.

Half-full or half-empty?  We still choose.  Let’s choose to look for the pony!  I’m in!  Are you?

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Ash Wednesday

ASH WEDNESDAY

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent.

Lent comes from the Old English term for “lengthen.”  As Easter approaches the amount of daylight grows longer.

 

More than a thousand years ago followers of Jesus began to set aside the 40 days before Easter as a kind of annual spiritual journey – an opportunity to reconnect with God in specific ways.  This year Easter Sunday is April 16.  If you do the math you’ll discover that there are actually 46 days between February 18 and April 5.

 

The six “extra” days represent the six Sundays during Lent.  Some Christians treat these Sundays as “little Easters” – they are like rest stops on the journey in which some folks choose step back, for 24 hours, from their Lenten commitments.

 

By Lenten commitment, do we mean giving something up?

Yes, a number of people choose to give up something for Lent.  Think of taking something out of your backpack before beginning a 40-day hike.  “I choose not to carry this around with me for the next six weeks.”  Think of it as an expression of hope.

During the Middle Ages it was common for Christians to give up meat, fish, eggs, and butter throughout Lent.

 

Nowadays it’s more typical for Westerners to surrender one of those things that can approach the level of addiction – perhaps caffeine, soda, coffee, chocolate, television, social media, or computer games.  It doesn’t take much for us to realize that these are probably things we could and should surrender for far longer than 40 days.

 

Can Lent also be a time to “take on” a new habit or practice?

Absolutely.  The balance, in fact, is quite healthy.  Just as we leave something behind on this spiritual journey, we also pick up a new perspective or behavior or commitment.  This is also an expression of hope.

You might consider an accelerated pattern of personal prayer or Bible reading.  Or writing a daily thank-you note to 40 different people.   Or pursuing a specific strategy to serve the poor.  Or a daily break in which you stop and enjoy a few minutes of intentional stillness.

 

This year there’s another option.

Write a message on a Post-It note.  With one word or a few words or even a short paragraph, address this question:  Where do you hope to see God at work between now and Easter?

Where do you hope to see God at work in your department?  In your family?  In our nation?  Or in your own heart?

 

You might put a Post-It note on a cross of your own, or in a place where you’re likely to see it.

 

Casting our hopes on God is itself an expression of hope.

And the cross just so happens to be the place where our deepest hopes become reality.

 

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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Just a thought…

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on the door forever.

amen…

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a Pebble story

Many years ago in a small  village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender.

The moneylender, who was an awful, mean man, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain.

He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag.

Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.

2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.

3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine that you were standing in the field.

What would you have done if you were the girl?

If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.

3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.

What would you recommend to the girl to do?

Well, here is what she did ….

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

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Are you Tired…

aren’t you tired yet?

And it’s a question we need to wrestle with every day.

Are you tired yet?

Tired of always trying to look like the smartest person in the room?

Tired of always having to be right?

Tired of always trying to get the last word?

Tired of always trying to be in control?

Tired of always trying to be the center of attention?

Tired of judging other people and throwing shadows on their accomplishments?

Tired of always trying to look like a hero?

Tired of trying to be as good as good can be to impress God, even though God has already made it abundantly clear that there’s nothing you can do to make him love you more?

When we’re tired of being tired, there’s hope we will finally listen to someone beyond ourselves.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says in Matthew 11:28.

When we’re tired of being tired, trusting him is our best hope of sleeping well tonight.

 

 

 

 

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1 Corinthians 13 paraphrased…Love

LOVE: A PARAPHRASE OF 1 CORINTHIANS 13

If I talk a lot about God and the Bible and the Church, but I fail to ask about your needs and then help you, I’m simply making a lot of empty religious noise.

If I graduate from theological seminary and know all the answers to questions you’ll never even think of asking, and if I have all the degrees to prove it and if I say I believe in God with all my heart, and soul and strength, and claim to have incredible answers to my prayers to show it, but I fail to take the time to find out where you’re at and what makes you laugh and why you cry, I’m nothing.

If I sell an extra car and some of my books to raise money for some poor starving kids somewhere, and if I give my life for God’s service and burn out after pouring everything I have into the work, but do it all without ever once thinking about the people, the real hurting people-the moms and dads and sons and daughters and orphans and widows and the lonely and hurting-if I pour my life into the Kingdom but forget to make it relevant to those here on earth, my energy is wasted, and so is my life.

Here is what love is like–genuine love. God’s kind of love. It’s patient. It can wait. It helps others, even if they never find out who did it. Love doesn’t look for greener pastures or dream of how things could be better if I just got rid of all my current commitments. Love doesn’t boast. It doesn’t try to build itself up to be something it isn’t. Love doesn’t act in a loose, immoral way. It doesn’t seek to take, but it willingly gives. Love doesn’t lose its cool. It doesn’t turn on and off. Love doesn’t think about how bad the other person is, and certainly doesn’t think of how it could get back at someone. Love is grieved deeply (as God is) over the evil in this world, but it rejoices over truth.

Love comes and sits with you when you’re feeling down and finds out what is wrong. It empathizes with you and believes in you. Love knows you’ll come through just as God planned, and love sticks right beside you all the way. Love doesn’t give up, or quit, or diminish or go home. Love keeps on keeping on, even when everything goes wrong and the feelings leave and the other person doesn’t seem as special anymore. Love succeeds 100 percent of the time. That, my friend, is what real love is!

–David Sanford

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What is Love from the mouths of children

WHAT IS LOVE?

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4-8 year olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca – age 8.

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.” Danny – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby – age 7

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.” Nikka – age 6

“There are two kinds of love, Our love. God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them.” Jenny – age 8

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine – age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.” Chris – age 7

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” Lauren – age 5

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8

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a twist on the Prodigal Son

FATHER, GIVE ME MY SHARE OF THE ESTATE

 

A long time ago, Jesus old a story about what it is like to come home.

Specifically, what it’s like to come home to our Father in heaven with no more qualifications than that we’ve made a mess of our own lives.

What would God say to us?  What would his attitude be?

In one of Jesus’ most familiar parables (Luke 15: 11-32), the younger of two sons demands, “Father, give me my share of the estate.”  It’s hard to overstate the edginess of this request. The Middle Eastern audience who first heard Jesus’ story must have been appalled.  This Jewish boy has committed the ultimate sin.

 

In so many words he has said, “Father, drop dead.  You’re no good to me alive.  All I want from you is your money that will be mine when you’re gone.  So, if you don’t mind, let’s pretend you’re gone now.”  It’s hard to imagine a more painful or insulting injury to any parent.

With a breaking heart, the father realizes that his son has no desire to be in relationship with him.  So he complies.  He divides up the estate.

The boy takes off into the wide, wide world.  According to the Bible this describes the relationship that all of us have with God.  All of us have said, in one way or another, “Father, I wish you were dead.  You crowd me.  My life would be so much happier if you weren’t hovering over everything I think and say and do.”

 

What does God do when we relate to him like that?  He says, “Go.  Go out and see if life is really happier when you are out of relationship with me.”

Author H.J. Duffy remembers when his teenage son was so excited to try out his new surfboard that he plunged right into the breakers, ignoring the warning flags that had been posted for dangerous surf.  Immediately the booming voice of the lifeguard rang out: “You are an inexperienced surfer.  Return to shore.”

Humiliated, the boy returned.  He asked the lifeguard how he knew he was a beginner.  “That’s easy.  You’ve got your wetsuit on backwards.”

God’s love is such that he doesn’t stand on the seashore of our lives and shout into a megaphone, “You are an inexperienced, completely ill-prepared rebel.  Return home at once.”  Incredibly, God lets us go.

 

At first things go brilliantly for the boy in Jesus’ story.  He has the time of his life.  But then he runs through all of his assets in “the far country.”  As scholar Kenneth Bailey observes, his ATM card is suddenly rejected.  His friends disappear.  Jesus assigns to him the ultimate nightmare job for a Hebrew boy – feeding pigs.

The boy gradually “comes to his senses,” as Jesus puts it.  He wakes up.  He realizes how far away he is from where he started.  He not only grasps in his head but he feels in his heart and his gut his separation from his father.  He longs to go home.

But what will his dad do if he ever shows his pig-feeding face around town again?

 

That would be a no-brainer in first century Jewish society.  The typical father would beat the living tar out of such a disrespectful son, as a warning to every other boy in the neighborhood.  It would be a kind of community service beating.

 

But this boy wonders, in his heart of hearts: is there a possibility that my dad will take me back?  He’s haunted by the last look that he saw on his father’s face.

 

He begins to formulate a plan.  He will play Let’s Make a Deal.  Certain that his relationship with his father is broken beyond repair, he rehearses a little speech.  “Dad, I don’t even deserve a cot in the barn.  I know I can’t be your son any more.  Could I at least be one of your minimum wage workers?”

He leaves the distant country and begins walking in the direction of home, no doubt burdened by the thought of trying to clean his own slate for the rest of his life.

The last thing he suspects is that his own father, the one he has wounded, is about to clean that slate for him.

 

Luke 15:20 tells us, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

 

The astonishing detail is that the father runs.  Dignified gentlemen in the time of Jesus walked through their paces slowly.  To run meant to show your ankles to the neighbors.  To do that was to risk ridicule.

 

This Father could care less.

 

While we ourselves are still a long way off – even while we remain in our distant countries of doubt and anger and hopelessness – God the Father is waiting.

What is it like to go home?

God the Father will run to meet us.

 

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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